By Spc. Zoe GarbarinoApril 23, 2018
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Soldiers from Battery B, 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division Field Artillery, conducted their first live fire exercise using M109A6 Paladins following months of training, April 13, on Fort Stewart, Georgia.
The battery, which provides fire support for the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, recently received their first set of Paladins as part of their battalion's conversion from towed artillery to self-propelled artillery.
Rob Haines, an M109A6 Paladin trainer from Advanced Design Corporation based in Virginia, worked on a Paladin for more than 20 years while he served his country. Now, as an Army veteran, he teaches new Soldiers how to use his favorite piece of artillery and carry out a mission.
"When I went through [Advanced Individual Training], I learned how to operate and shoot all types of artillery," Haines said. "Nowadays, they separate and train half the Soldiers on the light side of artillery and train the other half on the heavy side. I am here to help them make a smooth transition from one to the other."
The training process began with conducting inventory on all the new equipment to get Soldiers familiar with the tools they will be using during the live fire. It was then followed-up by instruction on how to use the equipment.
1st Lt. Kelsey Cummings, a field artillery officer assigned to Btry. B, 1-9 FA, said it was neat to start from block one and really learn all the equipment thoroughly from subject-matter experts. She enjoyed the longer length of training she received versus the more customary accelerated training she has received in her past.
"This training is unique because we got three weeks of in-depth training in the motor pool with civilians who are experts on the equipment before we were sent out to certify and qualify, which is what we did," Cummings said.
Once the Soldiers in 1-9 FA learned their roles, the battery then conducted a dry-fire exercise so Soldiers were confident with their role prior to the live-fire.
"All our knowledge based on light carried over well to heavy," said Sgt. David Roberts, a gunner assigned to Btry. B, 1-9 FA. "Although the crew drills changed a little bit, everything ran pretty smooth. Our unit and the civilians did a great job setting us up for success."
Cummings said her Soldiers are eager to get back into a battle rhythm after going months without weapons.
"It was exciting to see my Soldiers put forth everything they have learned," Cummings said.
Soldiers in the battery successfully qualified with their respective crews and will continue to train until they qualify as a battalion.